(Alan Ormsby, 1974)
The dork onscreen narrator is only the tip of the lurid, cartoony iceberg for the trashiest, sickest Ed Gein rip of them all. The visuals cheap and cheesy yet also hauntingly precise, the varied performances anchored in the great redneck burlesque of secret poet Roberts Blossom, this is a real EC comic come to life, with a great moral to boot: fundamentalism begets insanity. On the one hand the utterly over-the-top tastelessness is played for nervous giggles, from the brain-scooping scene to the seance-seduction whose murderous climax is represented in a perfect feathery cutaway. The blood flows thick and constant and redder than lipstick. But there's also a real sense of entrapment and anxiety that can really creep you out. The victims get more and more sympathetic and innocent as the plot progresses, with no increase in luck or mercy to show for it. The opposite, in fact: each murder is more explicitly gruesome than the last, climaxing with the perfectly conceived leg-trap tragedy incident. Which may mean that the absurd humour is a trap too: by the final minutes the balance has shifted to utter consuming dread, the stuff of nightmares. The final shot is perfect in its ambiguity. No masterpiece to say the least, but it's tawdry in the best way.